A Final Touch

I thought my recently finished Cheshire Rifle Volunteers deserved some means of proclaiming who they are supposed to represent. The solution was both surprisingly cheap and easy to get hold of, I was pleased to discover. So here they are; my final photos of the Cheshire Greys now with an engraved plaque.

…And in the final pic, I reveal the identity of my next intended Rifle Volunteer group by plaque!

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And I’ve a plaque already engraved for the next group of volunteer riflemen – the Robin Hood Rifles!
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Home on the Range

Presenting the finished group of Cheshire Rifle Volunteers! My little cohort consists of men of the 1st Cheshire Rifle Volunteer Corps under instruction from an officer. Out on the rifle range, they are firing their Martini-Henry rifles at targets some 300 yards away. The year is 1884 and a county-wide shooting competition is but a week away. Some further rifle practice is needed if the Cheshire Grey’s best shots are to be in with a chance of winning that silver cup…

A little research revealed to me that the remains of long-forgotten Victorian volunteer rifle ranges do still exist around the UK, some being more readily visible than others. It seems that many of these rifle ranges fell out of use sometime before the Rifle Volunteers final absorption into the new Territorial Force in 1908. Perhaps a dwindling interest in the movement was to blame, but after 1908 I suspect that the Territorial Force’s closer ties to the county regiments of the regular army meant the volunteer battalions might have made use of the regular’s facilities instead.

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“No hits, boys? You men can actually see the target, I presume?!”

Finding appropriate drill space and rifle ranges in the early years of the movement occasionally proved problematic and caused friction with the local population. However, during the heydey of the Rifle Volunteers, the activities of the local corps could become important social events. In 1861, for example, a county-wide rifle competition was watched by a crowd estimated to be up to 30,000!

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“300 yards!? Wish I’d brought my spectacles…”

The Rifle Volunteer movement always emphasised high standards of marksmanship. So, target practice at the rifle range – described at the time as ‘that interesting, healthful and manly exercise which the Rifle movement is supposed to supply’ – was seen as the main way of maintaining the enthusiasm and skill of the volunteers. An 1864 account of a Buckinghamshire Volunteers rifle competition suggests that the chief source of motivation wasn’t always the silverware however:

“The Volunteers were cheered in no small way by the presence of a good sprinkling of the Ladies, who with a bravery not common to the sex, boldly faced the wind and appeared to take great interest in the proceedings…”

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Men of the 1st Cheshire RVC (Cheshire Greys) around the time of their formation in 1860. Most are wearing shakos of a type similar (though seemingly not the same) as the museum example below.
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Shako of the 1st Cheshire RVC, c.1860.

A 2015 story in a provincial newspaper reported on the discovery of an old rifle range which had been apparently completely forgotten by the local community. Using a metal detector, a former soldier turned amateur archaeologist was first alerted to its existence when he discovered many Victorian-era bullets in the area, saying “...the oldest is the .577/450 Martini-Henry, which came into service in 1871 and is famous for being used during the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879.”

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Bullets recovered from a Victorian Rifle Volunteer’s range in Dudley. Martini-Henry bullets centre and post-1889 Lee-Enfield’s either side.

He located an 1880 edition of a map of the area and discovered the rifle range was clearly marked upon it. The locator of the range, Mr Beddard, goes on to describe how the range is depicted on this old map:

It was marked ‘volunteers’, with the firing positions running from the Dudley direction for 850 yards, spaced out every 50 yards up to the target area. Some have marked firing trenches, some have raised firing positions.”

For my own models, I’ve simply included a distance marking post with my group, demonstrating that they are firing at a range of 300 yards from the targets. Not sure what form these posts would have taken, so I’ve simply used my imagination here!

A 2012 archaeological survey report by Herefordshire Council of a Rifle Volunteers’ firing range on Bromyard Downs provides a further insight into the nature of a Victorian Rifle Volunteer’s rifle range:

“The Bromyard range was, like most Volunteer ranges, extremely simple, though some were even more basic in the facilities they offered. Simplest of all was the range on Coppet Hill, Goodrich, with a single lane ending at a target in a small excavation marked as an old quarry, with no intermediate firing points indicated and no flagstaffs. At Aston Ingham near Newent, too, a single target was accommodated in a small delve cut into the rising ground”

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View up a disused Victorian rifle range near Etchinghill, Staffordshire

Others, it seems, could be more elaborate. Some would feature shelters for the riflemen acting as markers and observers. These took the form of emplacements behind the butts or as brick huts placed to the side of the range. Shooting platforms or trenches were sometimes provided, although I imagine that for many ranges firing positions would consist simply of open grassland with distance marker posts – as in my little diorama. In the Bromyard Downs report, it goes on to describe the target end of the range:

At the butts end, the map shows the targets (plural) as a solid square structure projecting forward from a short straight line. Immediately behind the targets was a backstop shown as an earthwork mound 11 yards long with its west end curving forwards. As well as a backstop, this may have acted as a mantlet, protecting the Volunteers on marking duty. Behind that… was a second embankment on the hillside above, no doubt to stop high rounds from ricocheting off the rising ground; the map bears the legend ‘Butts’ between the two embankments. There was also a flagstaff a few yards to the east, which would have given formal warning that firing was taking place and would have aided the shooters by indicating wind strength and direction at the target.

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A view of the Etchinghill backstop embankment.

Stop giggling at the back! There is nothing amusing about being ‘at the butt’s end’. In the example of the Bromyard range, it seems possible that the targets consisted of a marked iron plate, a notion supported by a number of severely flattened spent bullets.

Next, I might put a label on the wooden plinth indicating what the figures represent…

Well, as the painting of these Perry Miniatures figures have been far from anything like a pain in the ‘butt’, be warned that I’ll be continuing this little Volunteer Rifle Corps project with my next small batch of riflemen representing another corps, some of which have already been glued together. More details to follow!

 

The Dumpies

As the finishing touches were applied to my Perry Miniatures hussars, I discovered an interesting fact. The regiment that I have painted, the 19th Hussars, were known by the nickname of “The Dumpies”. Apparently, this was an unflattering reference to the below-average height of men in the regiment.

With its origins as an Indian army regiment (the 1st Bengal Light Cavalry), regulations concerning height restrictions were more relaxed than in other British cavalry regiments. As a consequence, the greater proportion of shorter men in the regiment earned them the nickname ‘The Dumpies’.  Being a chap of shorter stature myself, this sounds like exactly my sort of regiment!

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It seems that the 19th Hussars might have also acquired a more inspiring nickname; “The Terrors of the East”. At a mere 28mm in height, I personally think that “The Dumpies” is a name perfectly suited to my three hussar figures.

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There are still nine more hussar figures in this range available from Perry Miniatures, Six of them feature more dynamic poses (charging) and the remaining three include a trumpeter, an NCO and an officer. I fully intend ‘at some point’ in the future to purchase these too and add them to my other ‘dumpies’.

As for my next painting assignment which I’ve been making plans for – all will be revealed in a forthcoming post…

On the March in Arnhem

Earlier this year I painted some figures for a ‘Group Build’ on the very wonderful Benno’s Figures Forum. These were then sent over to Germany for a talented chap called Jan to build into a display alongside many other figures also received from fellow forum members across Europe and the US.

The idea behind the project was to assemble a long column of marching figures taking in different historical periods while representing the painter’s own country or region.  I painted the 17th Regiment (representing my county of Leicestershire) using RedBox’s British infantry circa 1750.

 

This week, the project has finally been declared “finished” and photos of the final, grand diorama were posted on the forum. The display featured proudly at last weekend’s FIGZ wargaming & miniatures event in Holland. I feel very proud to have contributed a little something to this project alongside my talented fellow figure painters from across the globe.

So, here’s where my 17th Regiment boys ended up after Jan’s magic treatment – marching through the woodland of the US / Canadian border around the time of the French-Indian War (1754-63).

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And here are some photos of the wonderful figures which comprised the rest of the march:

 

The contributors, their nations and figures:

  • Paul, Great Britain – Grenadier Guards with marching band. Astronauts. Prussian Infantry, circa 1806.
  • Sascha, Germany – Prussian grenadiers, circa 1760. Napoleonic Westfalian Infantry.
  • Arekmaximus, Poland – Late Roman Infantry
  • Dykio, Netherlands – Soldiers painted in the colours of the ADO Den Haag football team!
  • Michael Roberts, France – French Revolutionary Infantry
  • Gunnar, Sweden – British Grenadiers, circa 1770s. Swedish Infantry circa 1700.
  • Giorgio, Italy – Napoleonic Austrian Infantry
  • Konrad, Germany – Napoleonic Highlanders
  • Edwardian, Great Britain – 14th Middlesex (Inns of Court) Rifle Volunteer Corps, circa 1897.
  • Remco, Netherlands – Napoleonic Dutch Infantry and a flagbearer with a FIGZ flag!
  • Peter, Belgium – Napoleonic Belgian Infantry
  • Dirk, Germany – Prussian infantry representing a variety of periods.
  • Dalibor, Croatia – Napoleonic Austrian Grenzer
  • Erik-Jan, Netherlands – Napoleonic French Light Infantry
  • Andrea, Italy / Togo – Italian Bersaglieri, circa 1859.
  • Bluefalchion, USA – Indian Wars US Infantry
  • Marvin, Great Britain (…yours truly) – 17th Regiment of Foot, circa 1750.

And finally , aside from making the whole diorama, Jan also found time to contribute the following figures:

  • Jan, Germany – Napoleonic Danish Infantry, Confederate Infantry circa 1860s. Napoleonic French Infantry, Medieval hunters and WWII US Infantry.

HM 17th Regiment of Infantry

I’ve now finished the 17th Regiment of Foot for the 2017 Benno’s Figures Forum Great Miniature Figures Parade. Lots of detail on the figures required lots of careful work. Thankfully. I had lots of time these past few days and only a few chores, furthermore I’ve really enjoyed painting them. The RedBox figures are very impressive, perhaps not the greatest I’ve ever seen, but with lots of character and crisp detail nonetheless!

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RedBox is to be also commended for tackling the topic of the mid-18th century British army. This era was incredibly important for British infantry as it began to learn how to fight in conflicts right across the globe for the first time in its history. From the Carnatic Wars in India, to the French & Indian War in North America; from the port of Havana, to the coast of West Africa; and from the Philippines in Asia, to Silesia in Europe, the British army was soon to find itself pre-eminent on a global scale (although the American War of Independence was around the corner…). It seems unjust that figures on this era remain very few indeed at 1/72 scale.

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Sergeants, drummer and flag bearer of the 17th.

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I’ve bought a few boxes of these RedBox figures and I intend to keep dipping into it to build up a force in time. For now, my 17th Regiment (just like their real forbears) are also about to travel for service overseas. Instead of North America or the West Indies, however, the are making for Germany. There they will be incorporated into a parade diorama by a talented fellow called Jan and then to ultimately make their way with the rest of the marching force over to Arnhem in Holland for display at the FIGZ convention!

Finally, on a related topic, I draw your attention to a US re-enactment group who are dedicated to bringing to life the “The 17th Regiment of Foot” as they were at the time of the American War of Independence (a decade or so later than the era depicted with my figures). Their excellent website states that it was;

“…established in the early 2000’s with the mission is to provide for its members and the public the experiences of the common British soldier throughout the conflict, and more specifically at historic sites from the Hudson River Valley to Virginia.”

In particular, they have an excellent study of the regiment’s finest hour at the battle of Princeton and in the successful defence of a baggage train, both against overwhelming odds. They conclude:

“Their conduct at Princeton and at many other battles throughout the American War made the 17th Regiment one of the truly outstanding British units of the war.. “

And this Leicester man says”hear, hear” to that!

The BFFGMFP…

It’s that time of year when a German gentleman named Jan from Benno’s Figures Forum announces the theme for this year’s ‘Group Build’; a collaboration in which Forum contributors from across Europe, nay – the world, collate their figures for display at the FIGZ convention in Arnhem. It is officially known as (take a deep breath) the Bennos Figures Forum Great Miniature Figures Parade (BFFGMFP)!!!

Last year, I sent some WWII Dutch cyclists and Napoleonic Dutch Infantry to join the many entertaining scenes of historical figures travelling “on the road to Arnhem”. In 2015, I sent four figures (including a Scots Grey, a Hanoverian Hussar, a Prussian Jager and a Nassau Grenadier) to join a large diorama commemorating the 200th anniversary of Waterloo. Importantly, two of these figures were Napoleonic cavalry, which kick-started my ongoing Nappy Cavalry Project…

For this year, the idea is to assemble a huge column of marching figures. The figures involved can be from any historical period and the intention is to build up a parade which travels through all the ages. We’ve been encouraged to paint a unit from our own countries or regions and with this in mind, I’ve come up with the following idea:

This year, my contribution will be –

The 17th Regiment of Foot, circa 1740!

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Soldier of the 17th Regiment, 1742 (contemporary print)

The “17th Regiment of Foot” became the “17th (Leicestershire) Regiment of Foot” in 1782, and then simply “The Leicestershire Regiment” following the Childers Reforms of 1881. Being a Leicestershire man myself, this certainly fulfils the brief to send figures representing my own country or region.

The figures I’m going to use have been lying around unpainted for a couple of years now. The figures are from Ukrainian manufacturer RedBox, specifically their British Infantry (Jacobite Rebellion 1745) set. It contains lots of marching figures, perfect for the BFFGMFP! Not having painted any RedBox figures before, I’m keen to try them out. At first glance, without being worthy of the description ‘sublime’, I’d say their figures look promising.

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RedBox British Infantry (c.1745)
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On the march: Leicestershire joins the “BFFGMFP”

I have until May to produce my contribution of what I hope will be around 15-20 figures, so there’s plenty of time. I have other things demanding my attention in the meantime. I’m still putting together the next post in my equine painting tutorial as I develop my Russian Cuirassier horses, hopefully this should be posted in the coming week, work duties allowing.

Bye for now!

Marvin.

British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century: 6th Dragoon Guards

A series of regular blog posts displaying images from “British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century”; a set of trade cards issued by Badshah Tea Co. of London in 1963. 


#6: The 6th Dragoon Guards

“Raised in 1685 and known as the King’s Carabiniers, partly because the men were armed with long pistols known as ‘carabines’. The regiment was amalgamated in 1922 with the 3rd Dragoon Guards to form the Prince of Wales’ Dragoon Guards. This is an officer in 1888.”

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Officer, 6th Dragoon Guards (c.1888)
Sites of interest about the 6th Dragoon Guards (also known as the Carabiniers):

National Army Museum page on the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers).

The museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, of which the 6th Dragoon Guards are an antecedent.

 

 

British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century: 1st Life Guards

A series of regular blog posts displaying images from “British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century”; a set of trade cards issued by Badshah Tea Co. of London in 1963. Appropriately, given my recent efforts at painting them, this one features the Life Guards in their uniform used after Waterloo.


#5: The 1st Life Guards

“This illustration shows an officer of the Life Guards in the full dress uniform worn at the Coronation of George IV. The present day style with the plumed helmet did not come into use until the 1870s.”

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Officer, Life Guards (c.1821).
Sites of interest about the Life Guards:

National Army Museum page on the Life Guards.

Household Cavalry Regiment website; a “labour of love — intended to be
of help to (and about) the Regiment”.

Site of the Household Cavalry Museum in Horse Guards, Whitehall, London. (One day, I WILL visit this too…)

British Army’s own web page on the Life Guards, still a functioning regiment to this day.

And, of course, there’s my own Waterloo-era Life Guards figures painted recently!

British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century: 13th Light Dragoons

A series of regular blog posts displaying images from “British Cavalry Uniforms of the 19th Century”; a set of trade cards issued by Badshah Tea Co. of London in 1963. 


#4: The 13th Light Dragoons

“This regiment formed part of the Light Brigade in the famous charge at Balaclava and our picture shows a trooper of this period. In 1861 the regiment was converted to Hussars and in 1922 amalgamated with the 18th Hussars to form the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own).”

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Trooper, 13th Light Dragoons (c.1854)

Sites of interest about the 10th Hussars:

Ogilvy Trust webpage on the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and Light Dragoons museum.

The Light Dragoons Regimental Association website.

National Army Museum webpage on the 13th Hussars.

And I’ve painted the 13th LD in both their Napoleonic and, like here, their Crimean campaign uniforms. See blog post here. And here

1st Life Guards (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #18)

My list of Nappy Cavalry Project regiments grows ever longer! In my recent post, I bemoaned my disaster with varnishing the figures. Essentially, what happened was that I was delighted with my horses up until I applied my usually reliable varnish coat. Something has tainted the varnish and the effect was to make my horses too shiny, too dark and to obliterate any shading details. Needless to say, I was a tad unhappy. A coat of fresh varnish has dulled the shine a little but the loss of subtle detail seems terminal.

Oh well, they will have to do. They are pleasing enough, just not quite as good as I felt they would have been…

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1st Life Guards (c.1815)

I’ve painted this set before as the Royal Horse Guards, of course and this set by Revell really is a terrific sculpt. The delicacy of the detail makes things tricky for the painter but ultimately rewards the patience needed to tackle it (varnishing horrors notwithstanding).

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Mark Adkin’s magnificent “Waterloo Companion” book states that the Life Guards were mounted on “large, black horses with manes brushed to the left to distinguish them from the Blues who brushed them to the right.” The manes appear to be brushed to the right of the horse, which makes them correct for Horse Guards but not ironically for Life Guards as stated on the box!

Anyway; enough pedantry, here are the photos:

Biography: 1st Life Guards [Great Britain]

This prestigious regiment has its origins in March 1660, King Charles II appointed Officers to three Troops of Horse Guards with the express intention that they protect the royal person. They saw action in wars against the Dutch and in the Monmouth Rebellion at the battle of Sedgemoor. In the 18th Century, the Horse Guards served in the Jacobite rebellions and the War of the Austrian Succession.

By 1788, only the 1st and 2nd troops remained in existence and, along with the two troops of Horse Grenadier Guards, were reorganised into two regiments; the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Life Guards. The 1st Life Guards fought in the Peninsular War and were present at the Hundred Days campaign, when they were attached to Wellington’s Household Brigade of heavy cavalry (alongside the Royal Horse Guards, the King’s Dragoon Guards and their sister regiment, the 2nd Life Guards).

The 1st LG got the chance to taste action prior to the battle of Waterloo in the torrential rain of the 17th June, skilfully assisting Wellington’s withdrawal after Quatre Bras. In one incident, they came to the aid of British light cavalry by successfully counter-charging French Lancers. Losses were light and they took to the field the next day with 255 sabres.

On the field of Waterloo, they were positioned with the rest of the brigade to the west of the road to Brussels. At 2:20pm, the 1st Life Guards and King’s Dragoon Guards charged the advancing French cuirassiers numbering some 780 sabres and, after some minutes of intense melee, routed them. Losses were heavy in the battle and their commanding officer Lt.Col. Ferrior was mortally wounded after allegedly leading the regiment in up to 11 charges throughout the battle. Assisting the great victory with such gallantry only added to the fame and honour of the prestigious 1st cavalry regiment of the British Army.

The 1st Life Guards merged with the 2nd Life Guards in 1922 to form a single regiment; the “Life Guards”, a regiment which remains in service even today.

Battle Honours: Dettingen, Peninsula, Waterloo.